‘Barbie and Ken’ Dish Purim Fun at Chabad Intown

‘Barbie and Ken’ Dish Purim Fun at Chabad Intown

Ever welcoming, Chabad Intown made for a fun Purim night of comedy.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

Rabbi Eliyahu and Dena Schusterman celebrated Purim as Ken and Barbie.
Rabbi Eliyahu and Dena Schusterman celebrated Purim as Ken and Barbie.

Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, founder and director of Chabad Intown, made his stand-up comedy stage debut on Sunday night, March 24, amid Purim revelers on his BeltLine stage prior to a performance by professional comedian Benji Lovitt, currently on tour in the U.S. from Israel.

What came before that was a rousing Megillah reading, cocktails, and appetizers before a seated dinner in the intimate, brick clad social hall. Stunning brunette Dena Schusterman, founder of Intown Jewish Preschool and Hebrew School, was clad in a pink cowboy hat trimmed in silver glitter, gold boots, and a long flowing blonde wig as Barbie, opposite the rabbi in his blonde Ken wig. On a more serious note, their back sides supported the yellow symbol for release of the hostages.

The Schustermans’ backs held yellow symbols to call attention to the plight of the hostages.

As the crowd mingled during the reception hour, violinists made for a festive mood. Alexandra Imerman French told the AJT, “Coming to Intown Chabad is always so welcoming.”

Joseph Ahlzadeh, who moved from East Cobb to Midtown, stated that he and wife, Cheryl, support both The Temple and Chabad Intown. Ditza Israeli and Jeremy Meisel enjoy the BeltLine neighborhood and their daughter’s enrollment in the Chabad Intown preschool.

Moving into the dining area, the tables were decorated with colorful napkins wrapped in feathers; and guests were encouraged to exchange mishloah manot (bags of candy, hamantaschen and fruit) with each other.

After a full family style meal, Schusterman shared the basics of celebrating a true complete Purim: reading the Megillah, feasting, drinking until you don’t know the difference, giving money, and gifts of food. He explained the power of impurity and the role of concealment with clothing, “When evil is exposed, we see it only when evil puts on a moral equivalent. When a king asks a queen to get drunk, it’s not a good thing.”

Kala Raz, Alexandra French, and Alison Ash enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of Chabad Intown.

The rabbi then called to the stage sets of couples to play a guessing game to warm up the crowd. Husbands and wives had to wear a word on their head that the spouse had to give hints to reveal … some more quickly than others.

Schusterman then rolled out his jokes and riddles. “What was Esther’s gown made of … polyester. How do you know if a Jew or non-Jew would answer, “How’s Biz?’ Answer: ‘Biz is great.’ Gotta not be Jewish … Oiy this is a slow night.”

Jeremy Meisel and Ditza Israeli like the BeltLine neighborhood and having the Chabad Intown preschool nearby.

He then reminisced about his recent stay at a Pennsylvania retreat with classmates who all turned 50 years old and dealing with midlife crises.

“With no spouses, seven of us slept in one room … you could hear all the CPAP machines, and we had ‘bladder security’ with a bathroom on the bus.”

Warning about a “hamantaschen hangover,” he took a more serious moment of pride to recount that, in 2023, Chabad Intown had more than 1,000 donors.

Next up, the headliner was an energetic Lovitt, who made Aliyah in 2006.

Alternating between English/Israeli accents, he spoke of living life large in Israel. “Going to see the ‘Barbie’ movie in Tel Aviv results in Kain Kain Kain! I hear there’s a Mob Museum in Vegas. We have that in the Knesset … all the criminals in one place … Despite the horror of Oct. 7, we have to laugh on Purim to keep from crying … Then in 2020, COVID stopped everything … cancelled all my shows, and I learned the metric system on Zoom.”

Keri Drescher, Cheryl Ahlzadeh, and Joseph Ahlzadeh enjoy the social hour.

He kept rolling, “Israelis have voted 45,000 times by stuffing ballots into the Kotel. Like Americans who threaten to move to Canada if they don’t get their way, Israelis similarly threaten, ‘If Bibi wins, I’m moving to Lebanon.’ How many here learned Hebrew in Ulpan? Gazans are learning perfect Hebrew in prison … and we learned only Hebrew nouns in summer camp … like at Barney Medintz, we couldn’t even say a sentence, maybe nouns ‘counselor, ‘cabin.’”

Lovitt, who grew up in Dallas, learned prayers he did not understand like blessing bread from the land. “But now,” he explained, “Chabad gets it … the whole experience.”

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